STILLWATER – The last time OSU shared a football field with the Cyclones of Iowa State, the Cowboys lost.
Lost a game and lost much, much more. The opportunity of a lifetime.
* A Big Bowl berth against LSU and old friend Les Miles. Little ol' Oklahoma State would have been playing for the national championship, with a fighting chance to win.
* A possible Heisman Trophy for Brandon Weeden.
* Five weeks in the national spotlight. Mike Gundy talked the other day about the benefits of being ranked and having your scores posted on the ESPN crawl at the bottom of the screen. That's chump change compared to a month of hype counting down to the Big Bowl.
All of which means OSU-ISU 2012 is not a grudge match. Not a revenge game. No way can the Cowboys pay back Iowa State for that defeat.
“When you look at it, there's a lot of what-ifs or opportunities that may have come if it had gone differently,” said OSU kicker Quinn Sharp, who in Ames famously missed a late field goal that would have given the Cowboys the lead. “It's just one of those things.”
Those opportunities are gone. The Cowboys might win another Heisman. Might make another Big Bowl. But they're not winning that Heisman. They're not making that Big Bowl.
“That's over,” said OSU offensive coordinator Todd Monken. “They beat us. That's the way it is. We've gotta move on and find a way to win it this year.”
That Friday night loss in Ames hurt. But it hurt some guys who aren't even in uniform this time around. Watching film this week, Monken counted just three offensive starters from that game who will play Saturday for the Cowboys: Joe Randle, Lane Taylor and Kye Staley.
And the Cowboys did move on. They've struggled this season – 3-2, with losses to the only two decent teams they've played – but OSU finished out last season strong. A Bedlam blowout that secured the first outright conference championship in school history, then a Fiesta Bowl shootout win over Stanford.
OSU defensive end Tyler Johnson said “what-if” occasionally crosses his mind, but for the most part, he easily put it behind him.
“You just simply have to flush it down the toilet,” Johnson said. “It's a new ballgame, it's a new year, and you just have to go from there. It sat in your stomach for a little bit. But once it was over for me, I just kind of dropped it. Once the game is finalized, there's not much you can do after that.”
Cowboy linebacker Alex Elkins is known as a former rugby player, but he actually played more baseball. He was a pitcher. A closer.
“So I had to have a short memory,” Elkins said. “I can't go into this week thinking about last year, because last year has nothing to do with this year.
“Whatever happened happened. This is a new year.”
Last year is gone. And so are the historic opportunities available. The Cowboys can't atone for 2011 in 2012.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.